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This is part one of a double feature DVD; the other feature is Prison of the Dead and one supposes we will get to that one in due time.  In this time, however, we’ve got Hell Asylum.  The cover of this DVD shows a couple of ghoul-type guys who wouldn’t be out of place on a heavy metal album cover.  However, when you get to the title page for Hell Asylum, you get six attractive women posing around wearing somewhat hookerish outfits against a night cityscape.  It kind of makes it look like some “life on the mean streets” type thing, or perhaps a women-in-prison film. 

Neither concept actually had me jumping up and down in anticipation, so I cheated a bit and played the trailer for Hell Asylum, to see what I was in for.  It seems this is a “reality TV show” with people spending the night in a haunted house.  It also appears to become hugely gory toward the end (of the trailer).  So, pre-armed with that knowledge, let’s begin. 

We get a voice-over, the same from the trailer, where a guy talks about haunted houses while the credits begin.  “We call them, haunted; the dead call them, home.”  He goes on to describe the reality TV show: 100 cameras, one haunted house, five contestants and one million dollars for the survivor of “The Chill Challenge.”

And we fade in, apparently the voice over guy was pitching this idea to some bored looking executive.  VoiceOver goes on to say that the house will have bits tailored for the contestants’ greatest fears.  He details claustrophobia, with a person sealed for an hour in a coffin.  Exec still looks bored.  Voice Over says that all the contestants will be young “chicks” with “tight, clinging outfits.”  He expounds on his formula:

”Fear equals goosebumps, goosebumps equal hard nipples, hard nipples in tight, clingy outfits equal ratings!”  He goes boing-boing with his fingers to illustrate.

Exec reveals that his main concern is the one million dollar prize; he doesn’t see that in VoiceOver’s budget, which is only five hundred thousand.  VoiceOver tries some lame industry double-talk, but Exec isn’t buying it. 

He says that the reality TV thing is starting to wane, so he’s not sure about this project, but VoiceOver (whose name is finally revealed as “Max” so let’s use that) says this one will be different.  This back and forth goes on for rather longer than it ought to, revealing some history and stuff and some former problems (apparently Max used to embezzle money for drugs; Max swears he’s clean).  Still no headway.

Max brings out a videocassette and says that the girls (possible contestants) are on this tape, and Exec should see them.  So Exec grabs the cassette, and we white-noise into some thrilling footage of Max [note: actually it isn’t Max, just looks a lot like him] walking around while loud (LOUD) heavy metal blares on the soundtrack.  Max gets into an elevator with some other folks who talk about some other TV show they’re trying to pitch, and the music helpfully fades a bit so we can get some of this fascinating discussion.  Then the elevator stops and Max gets out, and we don’t get to hear what happens with this other show.  The music shoots right back up in volume.

The other two guys get out of the elevator, and we’re treated to a shot of the elevator door closing.  Slowly.  Uh…okay.

Next, Max walks along this back alley or something.  This really isn’t heavy metal footage; it doesn’t go with the movie at all.  Heavy metal is when motorcycles are roaring down the road, not for some pudgy guy walking along all depressed.   The music fades again as Max pulls out his cell phone.  He tells the person on the other line to “get the gears in motion.  We have got ourselves a show!”  And we fade to the titles.

Um, I already see a problem here.  I can see that the bands providing the songs get a special mention in the credits, but that shouldn’t mean you should just stuff them anywhere and RUN  FOOTAGE while they play.  I mean, that whole “Max walking” thing added nothing at all other than running time (and the song). 

I have a bad feeling about this….

Fade in, some Steve Buscemi guy is tweaking the installed cameras, and complaining about stuff. But you know how those Steve Buscemi guys are, they’re always complaining about something.  [Non-] Max is there too.  Both of them complain about TV shows, how they hate reality TV, would rather have cop or hospital shows, blah blah blah.  Another song starts up on the soundtrack, and a hooded figure shows up and decapitates Steve Buscemi, while Max screams and screams, and then the hood hides him from view.  Was that Max, really?  Or was that some other guy?   Who knows. 

Fade in on some other day, at the house, with, uh, Max opening the door and letting the contestants in.  So, that wasn’t Max from earlier.  Thanks, Movie.  When each one enters, we get her name and we cut in some interview footage.

First up is Stacey, who reveals when asked her greatest fear, that she’s scared of many, many things, including the camera.   Oh, good show to be on, Stacey.  When asked why she should be picked, she says that her Mom told her she’s just as pretty as the other girls on TV.  Her amazingly vacuous interview continues, I’ll note if anything of interest comes up. 

I rewound a bit, and I’m sure the guy who got killed wasn’t Max.  All the men here are a bit overweight, unshaven with dark hair, so my mistake is understandable.

Next up is Rainbow.  Not the old metal band, but some goth-type chick.  She reveals her name came about due to the hippy nature of her parents (once again, hippies are proven to be evil).  In contrast to Stacey, she says nothing scares her.  Oh, she says, except a long period of pain.  As to why she should be picked, she says because everyone else is blonde, Midwestern, etc, and she’s different, and there are lots of different folks who are the same enough that they would like to see someone different, like her. 

Next up is Amber, a Drew Barrymore type.  She’s not sure how to take the “What scares you?” question:  “It depends on what you mean,” she says, then goes on to note that “fear” and “sexual arousal” exhibit the same physiological symptoms.  She may be our designated slut, I dunno.  Her fear is finally revealed to be insects and other crawling things. 

She reveals the source of this fear as when she found her pet dog, dead, when she was six years old and the body was covered by bugs.

Next is Marti, who is black.  Her fear is claustrophobia, as she’s an athlete.  She thinks she should be picked because she’s competitive, and thus, good television.  She’d use the prize money to open up some gyms, start a chain of them in fact, and they’d be called, get this, “Marti’s.” 

Next up, we have Paige, Paige Turner (ha ha).  She is definitely the bitch of the group, as she doesn’t cooperate, reveals she has a headache, and asks, “Do you want me on the show or not?”  Her biggest fear is marrying someone and having a normal, suburban life, then getting old “without the world ever knowing my name.”  She wants to be an actress and is going to be famous.  That’s why she should be chosen, by the way—this early footage of her is going to be “worth its weight in gold” when this fame thing happens. 

Definitely the bitch of the group.

And she’s the final one.  Now, everyone is inside, including Max and a cameraman.   Max locks the door and welcomes everyone in.  He explains the history of Mason house, built in 1850 by one Phineas Mason, who was known to have a very, very, very bad temper.   Also, an alcoholic with a sadistic streak, he once shot a man for snoring, yadda yadda yadda.  A long anecdote about a cotton spooling machine, and Mason throwing some underling into it; the resulting blood spattered fabric was sold (by Mason) as if nothing had ever happened.  Now, if that isn’t evil, then, some cliché or other!

Apparently, this Mason guy also sent off for brides, but when they showed up, no one ever saw them again, so he kept sending for more.  Apparently, one per year for ten years. 

This house doesn’t look like something from the 1850’s, but then, I wasn’t around then so who really knows.  Max goes on to detail some more of the house’s history, including the fact that the townsfolk tried to burn it down (but failed), and that it was later turned into an asylum (ah ha!  Hence the title), but no one ever got cured.  Isn’t that always the way?

”Welcome to Mason House!” he yells, and everyone jumps a bit. 

And everyone half-heartedly goes through some of the house, pausing to ask about a portrait of Phineas Mason, who, they are informed when they ask, is Phineas Mason.  He doesn’t look evil, he looks like someone who should be selling puffed rice or iced tea or something.  But the mark of evil is on him, according to the young ladies.  “No wonder he had to buy his brides!” one scoffs.

They poke around a bit more, and find a room that has been painted by hippies or large children, or someone else with no sense of color or design.  Everyone is impressed by the big stupid looking murals, except yours truly, who finds them…um…big and stupid looking.  So far, what we’ve seen of the “house” looks an awful lot like an elementary school.

Max takes this opportunity to reacquaint everyone with the rules for the show one last time.  Everyone has to have a headset, which is a mike that talks to the techs or to Max (not to the other ladies).  Everyone will be given various tasks through the night, and they have to wear the headsets, because even though the headsets seem to be the sort of “hands free” thing people wear when they sell crap over the phone, they also have low-light cameras in them, designed to capture “spectral phenomena.”   He explains about the hundred cameras.   In response to a question, he admits there are no cameras in the bathrooms, “after all, this is network television.”   Yeah, but it’s not live.  They could edit that out, or release it on DVD as the “uncut, unrated” version.  There’s money everywhere in home video.

Max mentions something about “the safety room,” how no one is to leave it without instruction.  He fails to mention which room this is, but hey, they probably edited that part out.  Pity I didn’t get the “uncut, unrated” DVD, but there you have it folks.

Max then mentions “the escape clause.”  If any of the ladies feel that it is just too scary or whatever, they press the red button on their headset and they will be removed from the house.  He says there’s only one way out, and that’s through the front door, and if anyone takes this way out they are disqualified.

Asked about the money, Max says it will be awarded to the last remaining person, or divided among the co-winners. 

He then tells them “the contest starts at sunset” which is a half hour away, and he’s leaving now.  He bids them welcome to the Fear Fac—oh, sorry, I meant, Chill Challenge.

He then closes them into the hippy room.   Max and his cameraman congratulate each other on  the rather mediocre job they did, but one suspects the script was already written. 

Fade to later, it’s dark out, and the ladies are all chilling in the hippy room. 

I’ve already forgotten their names, so Bitchy talks about how the stories are all bunk.  Sporty is doing tai chi or something, while Goth stretches out on a mattress.  Goth mentions how the version of the “Mason House story” she heard was worse.  Scaredy doesn’t want to know, but Slutty is all ears. 

Goth relates how Phineas’ wives were not only kept in the cellar, but experimented on as well, as Mason tried to use pieces of wives to create the perfect one.  Bitchy is dismissive of this, but Goth goes on.   She says that the asylum was shut down when all the staff were killed by the inmates.

Slutty thinks that’s pretty bad, but Bitchy says “Little Miss Death Rock” (Goth) is trying to spook everyone out, so they give up the game.  Goth has a rather colorful phrase as her rejoinder, and the two nearly come to blows before Sporty separates them. 

Sporty sides with Bitchy, while Scaredy and Slutty believe Goth.  Goth says (basically) “WhatEVER.”

Max takes this opportunity to have his lips appear on a nearby TV monitor (have you ever seen Cyborg 2?), and he asks if they can hear him; they confirm they can.  He says they’re not going to start taping yet, and Bitchy awards him an epithet as he signs off.  In the secret control room, watching on computer screens, Max decides that Bitchy is the “spunky” one.

(Sorry for the diversion here, but what kind of stupid geeks wrote Microsoft Word?  The spellchecker recognizes Darth, but not Cyborg?   Futurama fans will be glad that “Farnsworth” passes the test (while the title doesn’t) but Family Guy fans will bemoan that “Stewie” is considered a misspelling.)

Max wonders if Bitchy isn’t “playing the bitch a little too much,” and Cameraman says, in essence, whaddaya mean, she IS a bitch.  Everyone chuckles over this truism. 

The other tech says two minutes to go. 

”All right, boys, are you ready to make television history?” asks Max, and, receiving no response at all, amends this to “Are you ready to earn your paychecks?” and his crew are a tiny bit more behind that sentiment.  Max then asks where “Ted” is, and he is rewarded with the sound of a toilet flushing.  Some long-haired guy with a  bag of food comes out.  Max says he needs Ted to “stay close.”   Ted notes how the ladies are hot, and Max takes the opp to spill a bit of exposition, how he promised Mom he would take care of Ted.  So, they’re related in some fashion. 

The Other Tech (I hate to say The Black Tech because that sounds so label-oriented) says they’re starting.   Max decides to “crack” “the toughest nut” first and that means Sporty.  So he tells her to leave the Safe Room, which apparently is the Hippy Room.  She grabs her headset and defiantly leaves the room.   Scaredy wishes Sporty good luck as she leaves. 

Outside, Max tells Sporty (via Lip Box) to “find the study” where Phineas died (I am summarizing). 

She goes off to do so, and we are treated to “Marti Cam” of slow-mo, grainy, jerky black and white footage as she searches for the study.   (Marti is Sporty’s real name.)  For some reason, she focuses on old toilets and things that could not be a study except in the broadest of imaginations.  But hey, whatever. 

Sporty finally reaches, uh, the last room, I guess, and she proclaims it not a study at all.  Max asks her to open the only door in the room, which turns out to be a closet.  Sporty is told to reach into a hole in the wall and pull the object there, out of the wall.  A freeze-frame of the hole looks like…a typewriter made of teeth.  (Hey, I only said “looks like.”)

Once she steps into the closet, Max instructs “Spud” (who is the other/black technician) to slam the door shut on Sporty.  Remember, she had a fear of tiny enclosed spaces.  As Sporty yells about opening the door, Max asks for the temperature to be raised, “nice and slow.”

(Still not sure what kind of computer they have, here.  Looks like some kind of Unix system.)

Back in the Hippy Room, Bitchy is doing her makeup, while Scaredy is nervous about Sporty.  Hearing a scream, Scaredy is all alarmed, but Bitchy thinks it’s just a sound effect.  (Goth is trying to show or give something to Scaredy, but nothing comes of this other than some weird motion.)

Scaredy berates Bitchy for being rude, but Bitchy says she’s not here for the conversation, she’s here for the one million dollars. 

Back in the closet, Sporty turns out to be a remarkably easy nut to crack, as she is basically in full-blown panic.  Finally, they let her out, and she whines about how this wasn’t fair.  Max notes that the key to open the door was in the hole in the wall the whole time, but for some reason Sporty is disqualified anyway.  Max says he’ll send an escort, but she responds with an epithet and says she’ll find her own way out.   Max notes that she can leave her headset on the table, and she takes it off (we get a brief glimpse of a hooded figure as she does so).  She says the producers will be hearing from her lawyer, but come on, she signed a contract.  What’s she going to sue over?  Being revealed as a wuss?

She walks out of the room and off of camera, and as she does, she hears whispering on the soundtrack.  Taking this as more Chill Challenge stuff, she turns and starts pouring on the profanity toward Max, not seeing the hooded figure come up behind her.  This figure gives her a big ole hug, but it’s not a nice hug, as she starts raining blood and (vague) body bits down on the ground as the hug continues far longer than a normal hug should.  Just if you were keeping track, you know.

Basically, the blood continues far longer (and far bloodier) than a simple neck grab possibly could, but hey, you know, if the effects guys are up to it, why not?

Max appears on the Lip Box to tell the others that Sporty has been “evacuated” from the house.  Apparently there’s been some passage of time, as Bitchy was asleep.  Apparently, also, Max is either in league with the house or he was lying about the escort.  Or maybe the escort was the Hooded Bloodfiend (see option one). 

Bitchy is the next contestant.  She puts on her pumps and her headset and leaves the Hippy Room.  Outside, she’s told to go upstairs, but as usual, she’s not being cooperative at all, but what can you expect with a nickname like that?

We get more slow-mo, grainy Bitchy Cam footage as she makes her way upstairs.    She stops on a landing and barks for Max, and a shadowy figure comes up and tries to grab her…but it’s Max, and she disables him with her kung-fu grip. 

She releases him, and he notes “you know what they say” and relates the theory that fear and sexual arousal are the same, physiologically.  And the two of them start getting busy. 

In the Hippy Room, Scaredy worries about Bitchy; Goth notes that she’s sure Bitchy knows how to handle herself. 

In the control room, the techs watch Bitchy and Max go at it, and note how Bitchy “sure knows how to handle herself.”

See, it’s funny because it’s like parallel stuff.  Which is always funny.  It says here in this book.

The conversation in the control booth indicates that Bitchy is Max’s girlfriend, which would seem to be a huge breach of ethics and potential disqualifier, but I’m not that familiar with how television works—this may be normal for all I know.

In the Hippy Room, Scaredy notes how she hates this whole thing, and she hates being afraid, “I just wanted to be on TV.”

Slutty notes she only wants the million dollars, but Goth says she doesn’t care about the money.

”What?” says Slutty in disbelief.

Goth notes that her parents were hippies, and Slutty asks if, then, Goth can just get by on “love.”  (She says it with a sneer, good for her.)

Goth says, no, her parents WERE hippies, then they became yuppies, so money isn’t a worry with her.   She says she’s here to see ghosts, “the real ones.”

Slutty opines how there aren’t any ghosts, this is TV.

Goth says the stories about the house are true. 

Scaredy says she’s already scared enough, how about nix on the scary stories?  She says she already feels like she’s in prison, here.

”This is a prison,” Goth says, “a prison of the dead.”

(I hurriedly check the damn DVD box.  Yes, that is the name of the second feature, but we’re watching the first.  That Charles Band doesn’t miss a trick! She said the title…of the other film!)

Goth notes how the dead brides are imprisoned here.    She’s going to free them, though, with her crucifix. 

Scaredy says she’s starting to regret this.

Cut to Bitchy and Max in a rather obvious post-coital glow.  She tells him he’s naughty.  The word I would use is “stupid.”  He seems to have rigged his own show so that Bitchy can be a star, but he’s already on his last chance—why would he screw up his career like this?  Here’s a better idea: have your stupid reality show, and make Bitchy the hostess.  She gets some fame, you get a job, everyone wins.

Well, enough of this idiotic logic I insist on employing.   Here, Max reveals his dastardly scheme as being, that he won’t have to pay Bitchy the million bucks.  They delight in how this is all working out so cool.   Bitchy reveals that if this doesn’t work, she’s going to spill the whole plot to the tabloids.  Oh, there’s ambition.  Everyone believes the tabloids.   There’s more banter, and she puts on her weird furry high-heels, and Max has a smoke, and the techs all say how they should be doing other stuff other than watching this.  That’s what I say too.

Bitchy comes back into the Hippy Room, and she looks all disheveled and everyone’s alarmed at this.  They ask what happened, and Bitchy says, she’d rather not say. 

Max appears on the Lip Box just then, and says it’s Scaredy’s turn, but he’s got a special bit in store, so she can pick someone to come with her.  She picks Slutty.  As the two girls leave, Ted is instructed to get into some ghost costume.

In the hall, Scaredy apologizes to Slutty for picking her, but Goth gives Scaredy the creeps.  Slutty accepts the apology and, flashlight to the fore, they go off to find a cheap ghost costume.  I mean, an incredible special effect. 



Max tells them to go into the basement, and the two gals debate how creepy this is, and how Goth creeped them out, but Slutty points out that Goth could be working for the producers, and besides, one million dollars.  So they descend. 

In the control room, Max is wondering where Ted is, and a person in a hood shows up.  Max tells this person that his costume is not scary.  The music tells us this is not a good thing to be telling this person.

The person moves off camera, and some wormy noises start, and Max (not turning around) tells Ted this is not scary, either, and he hears moaning, and he tells the other crew not to encourage this moron Ted in his non-scary endeavors, but something wet smacks into the back of Max’s neck.  He grabs it and looks at it, and determines quickly that it is icky, and he turns around and sees that both Cameraman and the Other Black Tech aka Spud are kind of dead-like, with a mass of huge worms on their chests which are, no doubt, supposed to make us think they are entrails or something.  Something other than special effects make-up.  The (real) cameraman does this through quick cuts, but we’re not fooled.  Unless you are.  In which case, I’m not fooled. 

Anyway, there are, apparently, two hooded figures, and while one of them stands there looking proudly over what he has wrought of the two techs, another pops up and grabs Max by the shoulders.  He then yanks out Max’s heart, which is quite a trick from the shoulder area, then yanks a mass of worms out of Max’s throat. 

I never suspected that “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll eat some worms” childhood lament was taken literally by anyone, but I’m a changed man now.

Elsewhere, our two blondes are descending into the basement.  Slowly.  Flashlights to the fore.  And in the basement, there’s a lot of blue light. 

They stop at the bottom of the stairs and creep each other out by looking at some chains.  Just then, a voice crackles over the headset telling them to “Go down the hall,” but it’s like a demonic voice.  Just in case you thought Max might have survived not only the loss of his heart but the loss of his worms. 

Back in the Hippy Room, Goth notes some creaky noises, and Bitchy tells her to just cut out the Goth routine.  Then, Max’s lips appear on the Lip Box, and those lips tell Goth to leave the Hippy Room.  But, of course, the voice is all doomy and stuff.  Goth leaves anyway,  while Bitchy asks if she isn’t even going to say goodbye?  Getting no answer, Bitchy notes Goth’s rudeness.

Out of the room, there’s another Lip Box which tells Goth to go upstairs, then the Lip Box becomes an Eye Box, for no reason that I can see.  As Goth goes upstairs, we cut to the control room, where Max is being head-puppeted by some ghoul, who (the fiend!) pulls more worms out of Max’s head, and Max falls onto the keyboard.

Down in the basement, courtesy of the Scaredy cam, we see furnaces, cages and places where one could hang one’s towel, as well as…a half-buried wine bottle, near as I can tell.  The two blondes (and I am not being prejudiced here, it’s far easier to refer to the ONLY blondes in the movie this way) continue down the hall, hearing scary noises.  They pause, a hooded figure rises behind them, but as they continue it gets sucked into…the whole hauntedness bit.  I guess. 

Finally, they get to a room where there’s a big kiln in one wall, and as they stop, a big rain of bugs and stuff come down on them.  Now, I’m no sexist, but you should hear how these girls scream at the top of their lungs.  Somehow, Scaredy gets knocked unconscious, and Slutty runs away (remember, bugs were her fear). 

She pauses at the top of a flight of stairs to strip away her outer garments.  Normally, this would be considered titillation, but since it’s so dark, it makes no difference.  (She does this, by the way, because there are bugs on her clothes.  It’s not a nudity clause thing.)

She runs into a bathroom and showers the bugs out of her hair. 

And back to Bitchy, briefly, as we look at the hippy art on the walls.  I’m still not impressed.  Not even close to becoming impressed. 

And back to Slutty in the shower, while the music plays thundering drums.  She yells to the camera that she wants out of here, calling Max a certain smelly body part, and then she remembers Scaredy.  To her eternal credit, she runs back downstairs to certain peril to rescue Scaredy.  She spots a camera, gives Max another bit of insult, and continues down. 

And we switch to Goth, who is upstairs as you will all recall.   She calls for Max on the headset, and getting no answer, says she’s going back to the Hippy Room.  Then, a ghost appears!  I bet it’s Ted (the hood isn’t nearly as pointed), but Goth whips out her crucifix and starts telling the ghost he should go, because he’s a ghost and this is a crucifix and that’s how these things work. 

Sure enough, Ted has got himself to look like Phineas Mason!  Wow, Ted, swell work ethic.  But Goth falls backwards down the stairs, and from her position at the end, it appears she is dead.  Ted runs off in a panic, calling for Max.  (No, it has not been revealed as Ted, but none of the other specters have run off in a panic nor called for Max, so I think it’s a given.)

Back in the basement, Slutty returns to the kiln room and starts apologizing to the (non apparent) Scaredy.  She finally finds Scaredy in the fireplace, but as luck would have it (or wouldn’t) a ghoul-woman chooses that moment to smack Scaredy so hard she quickly bloodies her (Scaredy’s) face.  I feel Scaredy is not long for this show, but both she and Slutty scream as the ghoul does her work. 

Slutty runs off as Scaredy is pulled up into the chimney.  Soon, a rain of blood falls down, followed by several bones.  So I guess the ghouls were pretty hungry, as these bones have been picked clean.

Slutty runs upstairs, and we cut to Goth, who is apparently not quite dead.  The ghoul figure appears on the stairs above her, and Goth says she’s not afraid of death.  The ghoul comes closer, and Goth asks to be killed.  Thinking this sounds like a way cool torture, the ghoul refuses to do so and goes on.  (Remember, long-term pain was Goth’s fear.)

Upstairs, or somewhere else anyway, Slutty runs around, wanting to go home and pretty  upset.  She runs back into the Hippy Room, where she wakes Bitchy and ties to make her see reason (good luck with that).  Bitchy congrats her on being such a good actress, but Slutty slaps her and says this is reality.  Bitchy says it damn well better be, after that slap, and she wonders what’s going on.

Wow, only one slap turned Bitchy around?  I should try that!  (NOTE:  That was A JOKE.)

(A JOKE?)

(No, A SALES CAMPAIGN.)

(Actually a joke.)

Elsewhere, Ted runs into the control room, notes the dead bodies, and tells the munching ghoul to get away from his brother, which the ghoul obligingly does.  However, seeing that everyone is still dead, Ted runs off. 

Back in the Hippy Room, Bitchy is trying to raise Max (on the headset) and Slutty, after despairing a bit, remembers Goth’s crucifix.  Bitchy doesn’t want to know, however, so she leaves the Hippy Room (but, to her credit, not after grabbing Slutty’s hand and insisting she come with).  They run down a hall that is SO high school gymnasium, it…it need not be dwelt on overmuch.  Anyway, they come to a door, and hearing noises on the other side…well, Slutty wants to run, but Bitchy has found a spine somewhere (no gore jokes, please) and decides she’s going to beat the, er, tar out of this ghostly invader.  (You all can certainly guess it’s going to be Ted, right?  I don’t have to say anything?)

So, they open the door and Bitchy goes to town with a long pole on some unseen type in a robe.

And it turns out to be Ted, wonder of wonders.   However, and I didn’t foresee this—she pretty much beats him to death.  You see, I thought that she’d discover he was human, the three would team up, and Ted would prove he was more than just a…well, to be honest, a guy who showed up for a couple scenes and impressed no one.  And he and Slutty would be an item, and Bitchy would be the producer of some new series of horror films, and they’d all agree to meet for beers every anniversary in the old Mason House.  Shows how little I know, eh?  Those of you who are followers of me, quit now!  While there is still time to save yourselves! 

Still here?  Nya ha ha ha ha!

Ahem.  Anyway, Bitchy recognizes Ted, and apologizes for killing him, but he’s not quite dead, so he tells them that everyone else is dead.  Slutty asks where the “back door” is, to get out, but as his final statement, he says that he always thought Bitchy was pretty.

Well, Slutty isn’t too happy by these final thoughts, and kind of yanks on the thing impaling Ted, which makes Ted less than happy (but more toward dead). 

Slutty asks how they can all get out of here, and Ted points a bit less helpfully toward…well, it isn’t really specified.  Possibly, a cue card.  Then he finally dies.

And a ghoul pops into frame like, Whoah!  Ghoul!  And the two women run away.  (Before you write me tons of letters, I am sorry that the only humans left are called Bitchy and Slutty.  No, I don’t think I have any issues.  Yes, I am willing to talk about this.  No, not right now, I am busy.)

Anyway, our final humans run away back down the high school corridor, while the ghoul pops up and menaces, oh, someone I’m sure. 

And Bitchy and Slutty…run up the stairs…okay, I am sure I could call them “Competing with Men on any Level” and “Comfortable with her sexuality” but that would be a lot of typing.   But wouldn’t “up the stairs” seem kind of the wrong direction?

Well, whatever.  They run up the stairs, and they find the dying and in-pain Goth, and they try to get some useful information from her.   Slutty notes how uncomfortable she is with this whole thing, but Goth says she left the cool talisman at the foot of the stairs, and all Slutty has to do is grab said talisman and wave it around and everything will be all right again.  Could anything be easier?

Goth asks Bitchy to break her (Goth’s) neck. Which Bitchy does, with a bit of reluctance.  And the scene is pretty uncomfortable, for a movie which has been mostly effects and atmosphere from scene one.  It’s (uh) kind of a cool bit, which has actual emotional resonance.  Slutty wonders whazzup with this killing, but soon enough, some hooded types show up to perform mayhem.  Slutty holds up Goth’s crucifix to ward them off, which seems to work kind of, but they keep coming, so Slutty asks what do to next, but Goth is dead and can’t answer.  In seconds, Slutty is looking at her own bloody fingers, like, whatever she tried didn’t work.  Fade to black, and ghoul-eating noises, just in case any of you thought this was going to have a happy ending. 

Fade in as Goth, who isn’t quite as dead as we all thought she was despite having her legs splayed rather agape, and having a (not professional) neck breaking.  Anyway, she looks and sees that the ghouls are pulling more worms out of Slutty, so I guess this is the future and worms are high on everyone’s diet.

Goth looks at these ghoul chow-downs and again asks for them to kill her (didn’t Bitchy do that?) but they just chow down all the harder.  Guess you can’t count on the dead for nothing these days. 

Elsewhere, Bitchy is running through the mansion, trying all the doors, looking for that magical escape door.  Which eludes everyone, just everyone who looks for it.

Well, she looks for some more escape areas, but wouldn’t you just know it, the ghouls happen on her just then, and you know that won’t be pretty. 

Bitchy offers that she just wanted to be famous, and some random ghoul rips some bit of her face open, which starts shooting blood over her face, and the other ghouls thinks Hey Way Cool or whatever ghouls think, and they all jump on her, and we get footage of static.  (Normally, I would hate fourteen minutes of static, but we are at minute 66 of an 80 minute threat, and I am way forgiving of those of the right mind). 

Uh, yeah, whatever I said.  Uh huh  Because, we fade out on that static, and fade in on this static.  And it is Exec, from way back when, and he is well and truly enthused, saying that THIS is reality TV.  THIS is WAY COOL (not the opinion of yours truly).  THIS is the ULTIMATE clam dip for ANY kind of corn-based chip.

I mean, the fact that Boss hasn’t heard ANYTHING from ANYBODY involved in this project, even an email from Max, well, that couldn’t be just a PLOT POINT, could it?   Because I mean, Exec could be, uh, the long forgotten ancestor of Phineas Mason and was feeding everyone to his hungry relative’s soul, and Max etc were chomped because of this (I have heard rumors that television executives are unnatural in many respects).

Otherwise…I mean, everyone is dead, so how did he get this footage?  Does he know everyone is dead and doesn’t care?  Is he in on this whole ghoul thing?   Or is this just one of those ironic showbiz-above-all endings? 

Well?

So, right after Boss said this footage means a HIT, we get credits.  And another song.  But, hey, who cares, the song is over the closing credits!  Sixty five minutes into what was promised as eighty.  You have NO IDEA how refreshing that is.

Costume designer, Lynh Haaga (sic).  Writer: Trent Haaga.   Coincidence?  And, as they used to say on Gilligan’s Island, “..and the rest,” with their respective credits.

So…who worked on the debits?  Ha ha ha.

Speaking of debits, boy, these songs suck.  Hard to believe the bands got a special credit for these.  I could play guitar this badly if I wanted to, and I could croak and groan with the best of them.  But I would hate myself if I made these songs.  Well, I hate myself anyway but you get the point.

Well, Danny Draver?  My phone is still silent.  Must be down to fate.

And speaking of fate, here are the cast credits.  Bitchy was Debra Mayer.  And special credit billed Brinke Stevens was…Head Spectre?  You mean the quick shot ghoul who killed Scaredy?  Boy, she’s not getting the parts she deserves.

Other credits.  Really.  Script supervisor is Yolonda Squatpump.  Production accountant is Eric Cartman.  Ha ha, expenses, charade you are! 

Man, these songs just suck.  I like some heavy metal and some goth stuff and some punk stuff, but these things…well, they aren’t anything I like.  Sorry.

But we’re left with the ultimate question.    The question being, Why?

Well, my first question is, can I be nice without using the word “stupid”?

The problem with Hell Asylum isn’t in what it is.  It’s better than average in its makings and its performances.  Even the cinematography, which is overly dark, works to a certain creative advantage.  And the acting was pretty good throughout, I never caught anyone doing a routine…they all seemed to be real people.

The problem is what Hell Asylum is not.  Compelling, interesting, anything above home video fodder.  It has no reason to exist, other than to place product on shelves, and one can say the same thing about baloney.  But baloney isn’t sitting there waiting for you to evaluate its artistic merits.  It’s just baloney.

Ultimately, so is Hell Asylum.  (You knew I was going to say that sooner or later, right?)  It competently fills its sixty-odd minute time slot, if you are in the mood for some mindless creepiness and wormy gore.  The thing that nags me is that “competently made” bit.  The acting is actually pretty good—as mentioned, I never thought this was a bunch of actresses saying lines from a script.  The effects are sufficiently shocking, though they lack a real reason to be there, other than expectation.   Oh, and to get some worms some well-needed work.

Man, is this a recommendation yea, or nay? 

I can’t decide.    I tend toward no, but the talent exhibited here…I guess this means Danny Draver gets a second chance.   But not an immediate one.  I’m not going to pop down to the video palace to see what else he’s done.  Because he sure can’t smell a good script from a bad one. 

Not that I really blame the writer, here.  Obviously, someone said, Hey we’ve got Debra Mayer and Brinke Stevens!  And some hooded cloaks!  And we can use the elementary school after 5 PM (this set, with its bad hippy art and its corridors, was obviously an educational institution of some kind, and I’m basing my opinion of which kind on the quality of the art in the hippy room), let’s make a movie!

That’s a very, very different question from, Let’s watch a movie.  Everyone here knows that, right?

If you decide to venture into the Hell Asylum, well, you do so at your peril.  Some creepy atmosphere, and some pretty good acting, but all in the service of…I dunno.  Product on shelves. 

It’s kind of like coming back from a fancy dinner and being asked about the hors d'oeuvres.   Oh, yeah, they had those, didn’t they.  What were they?  Hard to remember…but they made me hungry for the main course--

--which never arrived, now that I think abbout it.


Hell Asylum, dinner is served.



June 19, 2005